CARIFTA team announced for Aruba

Local swimming is gearing up for its next major international meet.

The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association recently named 28 youngsters to the junior swimming team heading to Savaneta, Aruba, April 20 to 27 to compete in the XXIX 2014 CARIFTA 50 Meter Pool and Open Water Swimming Championships.

Those swimmers, who represent the Camana Bay Aquatic Club and Stingray Swim Club, are:

Girls 11-12: Jade Barnes (CBAC), Alison Jackson (SSC), Miquela Montana (SSC), Zororo Mutomba (CBAC), Ria Plunkett (SSC), Holly Stradling (CBAC) and Monina Thompson (SSC).

Boys 11-12: Jordan Crooks (CBAC), Liam Henry (SSC), Iain MacRae (SSC), Zachary Moore (CBAC) and Matthew Penner (CBAC)

Girls 13-14: Samantha Bailey (SSC), Stefanie Boothe (SSC), Lauren Hew (CBAC), Flynn Hope (CBAC), Sarah Jackson (SSC), Katie Klein (SSC), Kavanagh Lambert (CBAC) and Ella Plunkett (CBAC)

Boys 13-14: Rory Barrett (CBAC), Jonathan Key (SSC), Matthew Somerville (CBAC) and Eddie Weber (CBAC)

Girls 15-17: Catriona MacRae (SSC)

Boys 15-17: Simon Butler (SSC), Iain McCallum (SSC) and Cole Morgan (SSC).

As was the case last year, the CARIFTA squad will have a training camp in addition to the swimmers’ regular club training and will focus on common technical aspects of their swims such as starts, turns and relay changes.

In addition to rigorous training and meeting minimum qualification times, to be considered for selection, a swimmer must meet the following eligibility criteria:

A registered member of CIASA in good standing

Have signed the 2013/2014 CIASA Representative Swim Team Agreement

Have signed/agreed to Representative Team Protocols

Be between the ages of 11 and 17 as of Dec. 31, 2013.

The task before CARIFTA head coach Bailey Weathers and assistant coaches Andy Copley and Brad Hutton was not an easy one. Based on a review of swimmers’ qualifying times, compliance with training and eligibility requirements, the coaching staff made a recommendation to CIASA. From there, the team roster was agreed and ratified at the CIASA board meeting this month. 

Weathers, CIASA’s technical director, said: “This has been already been an exciting season for so many Cayman Islands swimmers. We have seen an incredible amount of improvement and success; and we are expecting more great swims as well at CARIFTA.”

The support of the Cayman Islands government and Maples every year has helped make the position of technical director possible, a position which is largely credited with the recent upsurge in swimming in Cayman, including both learn-to-swim and competitive swimming.

CIASA is providing much of the funding for the trip through money raised at the recent Dine and Splash with Olympians event. However, travel to Aruba is quite an expensive proposition and with such a large team traveling, the team and parents will also be pulling together to raise additional funds for the trip. There are further costs for accommodations, meals and gear. 

Cayman Airways has come on board to assist with air travel. Other supporters include Dart, Global Captive Management Ltd., PricewaterhouseCoopers, CUC, KPMG and the Da Vinci Wellness Center.

Joining the swimmers in Aruba will be Weathers, Copley and Hutton, along with team managers Sue Weathers and Jeffrey Wight and team physical therapist Claire Critchley of the Da Vinci Center. 

Michael Lockwood, CIASA vice president who was a competitive swimmer in his youth and is now a masters swimmer, was delighted with the selection process.

“In June 2013, the CIASA board established the CARIFTA 2014 qualification times and at that time, we anticipated a CARIFTA team of approximately 18 swimmers,” Lockwood said. “Swimmers will recall that qualification times were a little faster than the previous year. The board was delighted to receive the coaches’ recommendations this year with an astounding number of 28 qualifying swimmers. 

“These swimmers rose to the challenge and exceeded our expectations. They and their coaches should be very proud. This is just one example of the incredible growth and success of Cayman swimming in the past year. And, typical of swimming, we expect that this growth trend will continue in the coming years under the leadership of Bailey Weathers.”  

With a potential maximum team size of 32 swimmers, Cayman elected to send 28 competitors this year and with veteran CARIFTA swimmers such as Cole Morgan, Iain McCallum, Eddie Weber and Lauren Hew on the team, the first-time competitors will have good mentors in their team mates.  

“I would like to congratulate all of our swimmers,” said Minister of Sport Osbourne Bodden. “Swimming requires incredible commitment, discipline and focus, and many early hours at the pool. I also want to thank their parents for the support and often referenced ‘swim taxi service’ which they provide. 

“On behalf of the Ministry of Sports and the Cayman Islands government, we wish you all success in Aruba.”

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